CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Archive for the ‘Road Trip’ Category

Spudnut Donuts- Berea (Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 7, 2016

Spudnuts sign

The call of duty for the Ohio Donut trail led me just south of Cleveland – Berea, Ohio. I’ve had my eye on Spudnuts for several years and as luck would have it, this special spot is not far Fat Head Brewing and what better way to prepare for drinking beer than loading up on donuts.

Spudnuts Building Berea

Let’s take a quick step into the Wayback Machine to discuss the place Spudnuts has in American Donut history. The first Spudnuts started in Salt Lake City in 1940 by a couple of brothers with a knack for kneading a special potato based flour. The uniqueness of the recipe and wartime shortages made Spudnuts a favored snack. Fueled by low franchise fees by 1954 there were over three hundred Spudnuts in 38 states. In the early 1970’s numbers continued to swell including 170 Japanese Spudnut locations. However by 1979 the company ceased operation and the franchises were left on their own without access to the special Spudnut flour. Today about 37 independently owned Spudnuts soldier on throughout the country (including one in nearby Mentor).

box of Spudnut Donuts

This location features about thirty kinds of donuts, including the bestsellers Toasted Coconut, Butter Pecan and Maple Bacon. Most of the styles are round, yeasty donuts with special fillings such as key lime pie, apple jelly, maple bacon, raspberry, strawberry, apricot, custard/cream, cherry, blueberry, peach and chocolate cream. Because it is Northeast Ohio, there is a maple donut and because Cleveland Rocks there is a Maple Bacon donut. The donut makers fry about twenty pounds of bacon a week to meet demand. I’ve encountered a few bacon donuts in my donut daze but to date most have had bacon as an afterthought or gimmick. At this Spudnuts the bacon is piled on thickly and it tastes great!

My favorite here was the Cruller. A donut style that I rarely encounter but the version here was exceptional. It was fluffy and airy but had an incredible flavor and mouth feel.

I continued to sample from my box of twelve over the next three days and found these Spudnuts are long lived and maintained a fresh flavor well past 72 hours. So next time you are passing by, drop in for a spudnut.

Spudnut details

Spudnut Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in CLEGourmand, donuts, Ohio, Ohio Donut Trail, Road Trip | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

4 Mile Bakery (& General Store & Furniture Store), Jackson, (Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 18, 2016

Initially, I was skeptical that Jackson Ohio could offer two candidates to the Ohio Donut Trail. My journey to 4 Mile Bakery (et. al) was much longer that four miles. It took me over the freeway, through the woods, past some large houses, horse pastures and more. As a place far from home and only open a few days a week, it was a long time for the stars to align in such a manner as to allow me to visit and take care of the rest of my “business” in Jackson.

My first thought was the business might not be focused enough to deliver a good donut. In addition to 4 Mile Bakery, I saw references to a general store, fireplaces and a furniture store. Sometimes all were listed together or just a combination of two were spelled out…..or alluded to.

When I pulled up, these were the two things that caught my eye.

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Walking down the wooden porch, passing by rockers for sale, I walked through the door to see the set up of a typical general store. Then I saw an aisle of almost any candy I have encountered in my life, then another of the Amish store du jour staples of pickled vegetables, jerkies and whatnot. Then I spied row after row of self service donut cases filed to the brim with styles of donuts I have never encountered…..ever. Among these new discoveries: maple pecan apple fritters, fritter toes, apple fritters shaped like feet (with the toes still attached), donut pillows (small square donuts filled with cream / creme which I would not mind falling asleep on), pretzel shaped donuts covering in maple and giant yeast donuts that are two times bigger than any previously sighted / cited donut in my life experience. Those are just some of the styles I saw displayed.

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Mrs. Gourmand believes the maple covered pretzel donut may be her favorite item I have dragged home from my donut trail expeditions. The blueberry rated highly with her as well. In order to continue researching the donut trail it is important that certain people of influence are occasionally not disgruntled in spite of my being absent from home. A third saving grace for 4 Mile Bakery and _______ is that Mrs. Gourmand believes their custard may be as good as the current custard champion front-runner Family Donut Shoppe. This bodes well since the wife of my occasional research assistant, the Grumpy Old Man, whom we refer to as the Queen, has only been pleased by one trophy from the donut trail, (and perhaps never pleased by anything else….ever) a custard donut from Family Donut Shoppe. If a place can offer a custard donut fit for a Queen, then then is hope for the Grumpy old man and a continuation of the Ohio Donut Trail.

4 Mile Bakery (on Facebook)
6005 4 Mile Rd, Jackson, OH 45640

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Posted in bakery, donuts, Ohio, Ohio Donut Trail, Road Trip | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Tender Fluff, Jackson (Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 17, 2016

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My quest to wrap up the southern leg of the Ohio Donut Trail took me to Jackson Ohio to try not one but two donuteries. My first stop was in Jackson proper to visit Tender Fluff Donuts. The name has a decades old history in Jackson with the original location on Broadway. In 2012, Tender Fluff drifted away from the town center to slightly off the beaten railroad tracks on Harding Ave. The present location is three times larger than Tender Fluff 1.0 and it needs to be. By report the space creates 200 – 300 dozen donuts a day. In addition to customers frequenting the shop the business delivers to over 30 locations in the region.

The place does not make an impression which makes one want to “come hither”. It is a nondescript cinder block building with minimal signage and limited frontage and windows. Just a short hop away from the railroad tracks and while not at a major intersection, the area seems to be a high volume thoroughfare for the whole county – countless cars streamed past me as I was circling Tender Fluff to get a lay of the land and figure out where to park, it lacks ambiance. However the first rule of donut exploration is “don’t judge a donut by its building”.

When I walked through the door, I had the feeling of being the greenhorn walking into an old western bar. The ladies gathered around the table knew me for the outsider I was. After watching me gaze around the space and looking dejectedly at the dozens of empty plastic tubs lining the counters and tables one of the donut slingers directed me to the main counter. She guided the greenhorn to the last creme horns and random remaining donuts. The place is open until 1 pm but often sells out well before that. I came through the door just after high noon. I could tell from my clinical style observations that hours ago there had been at least fifty varieties of donuts in this space. Even the bins labeled day old donuts were bare to the bottom.

The display case had maybe thirty donuts left and since it looked like the ladies were getting ready to call it a day I was offered a deal – a dozen of any type, even the “specials” for $8. That is a good deal, especially when I was given a true bakers dozen. Among my assortment was a cannoli. I am always wary of any cannoli in Ohio. Over 95% of what I have tried in the Buckeye state have been a dismal disappointment (since my cannoli baseline is based on the Italian bakeries of old Boston, it is a high bar). Because of my past cannoli experiences, I did not bother to try the one I picked up until the next day…..and it was SUPERIOR! The key to Tender Fluff is to get to the doors early (5:30 or 6:00 am).

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The other donuts and “specials” I tried were all of high quality. In particular, the simple, long thin stick donuts were melt in your mouth light and featured a thin, sweet glaze which helped these tubes of dough slight right down into my belly. The icing used as filling in two of the donuts was also among some of the best I have tried in my dough fueled travels. Another interesting feature, Tender Fluff offers both soft and hard creme horns. I have never been a creme horn advocate but in this case the soft creme horn was a game changer for me and a perfect platform for delivering large volumes of creme.

A few other tasting notes. My next destination for the day was 4 Mile Bakery a few miles away. Located at the mid-point between these two donut purveyors is a local favorite Rowdy’s Smokehouse . I, of course picked up an order of BBQ to go (to eat on my way to McArthur). Even though Rowdy’s messed up my order, I was impressed with what I consumed (over several days).

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Tender Fluff on Facebook
91 Harding Ave.
Jackson
740 286 6619
Monday to Friday 5:30 am to 1 pm
Saturday 6 am until all is gone

Tender Fluff Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Main Eatery, McArthur

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 4, 2016

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Discovery of Main Eatery is linked to three important things: donuts, hot dogs and an itch to roam. Readers have read much about my explorations on SR 56 this year. What started as an alternate and much longer way to get to O’Betty’s in Athens, with a tacked on excuse to try out what turned out to be one of the best donut spots in the state turned out to be a journey of discovery. On my first trip through McArthur I drove right by Main Eatery without taking note of it. This is an easy thing to do. Fortunately, the Grumpy Old Man was with me on the first drive-by and he happened to spy a sign for a 21 piece shrimp basket. Our next trip through town, resulted in a very brief drop in which gave me enough information to want to block out time to explore this cinder block treasure trove of comfort foods again.

As alluded to before, the Main Eatery is easy to bypass. It is a small block building that is ubiquitous to many rural and suburban areas of Ohio. Typically these shacks push out soft serve ice cream and some secondary or ever afterthought items like hot dogs and a few generic sandwiches. They get the job done and tend to be seasonal businesses. From a distance Main Eatery could easily blend into this category. The eatery is easy to miss and dismiss due to minimal, generic signage and a bland exterior. There is noting outside to suggest what the menu has to offer within.

Main Eatery is definitely a shake shack (so to say) offering well over 100 combinations of milkshake flavors. I’m not sure what type of ice cream they scoop but I can vouch that the sum of all the shaken and stirred parts is exceptional. I sipped on the best Pumpkin milkshake of my life while driving back to Columbus from McArthur. The flavor was great and the thickness perfectly balanced. I expected good from Main Eatery but not incredible.

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The extensive assortment of dairy delights is just a preview of coming attractions on the main menu. Over six pages long, it is packed with an assortment of sandwiches, entrees, snack foods, subs, wraps, baked potatoes, a Cuban sandwich, all types of pork dishes and a lot more. I’m not sure how they pack so many ingredients into such a small place. Even more surprising, how can so much, be done so well, in such minimal square footage. Much of the menu is made from scratch. The pork is slow roasted. A fair amount of ingredients are locally sourced when possible. I would have never guessed or expected this. I am glad I sleuthed it out.

Main Eatery does have a disadvantage it is always the fourth, fifth or sixth spot on one of my journeys of discovery so I have not been able to do in-depth investigation. I am certain, beyond reasonable doubt the eatery has the best Cole slaw south of 70. I sampled it twice now and was beyond pleased both times. The texture of the shaved cabbage, the balance of sauce and spice and just the right amount of carrot shavings make this mixture hard to beat. On this scouting mission, I ordered the “Hop Slop” to go. Included in this dish: homemade (made to order) potato chips, slow roasted pulled pork BBQ, cheese sauce, cheddar cheese, sour cream, a side of Cole slaw and a pickle spears. I had a few of the chips before the wheels hit the road and I ate the rest of the dish three hours later. I was very happy with my selection.

Although my research time and subjects at Main Eatery have been constrained I’m still confident in my endorsement. Service has been friendly and informative on each of my trips. If you have time to linger you do have options. The space is simple. There is an eating area on the porch. A few tables dot a small eat in space inside. The walls are decorated with a mix of old milk bottles for various Ohio diary from days of yore, an assortment of pop bottles and various knick knacks. Their next door neighbor is a service center for at risk youth in Vinton County. Main Eatery is an unlikely diamond in the rough inside a small town that is easy to breeze by on your way to the Hocking Hills but it is well worth dropping in to visit. Based on the potato chips here as well as those just down the street at Mama Renie’s Pizza it is fair to say McArthur is the homemade potato chip capital of the Buckeye state.

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Main Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in desserts, ice cream, Ohio, restaurants, Road Trip | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Market Street Soda Works

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 25, 2016

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When I heard about the opening of Market Street Soda Works in Newark, I was excited to check out what they had to offer. The challenge was finding the time to do it. The business opened in June 2016 in the revitalized (and still under construction and development) downtown Newark. In a world where we walk into a grocery store and find ourselves overwhelmed with options or open a restaurant menu with ten pages it is refreshing to find a place that does just one thing…..carbonated beverages.

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Before I move on, let’s settle one thing. A century old debate is whether Pop is Soda or is Soda Pop? In some parts of the country the use of the “wrong” term can be grounds for ridicule. I go on the record as being a Pop man. Soda Pop when condensed to just one word for efficiency is best served with the term Pop. Pop is pop….no debate about what it is. Whereas Soda can be soda water, a soda fountain, baking soda, etc., etc. Pop sends a clear message and soda sends a mixed message about the subject at hand. That being said, I fully support Market Street Soda Works in both name and mission. Using the KISS principle….Keep It Simple – Soda.

Owner Tim Argyle has a life long love of root beers, red pops, apple beers and the like. Tim has curated an impressive assortment of over 100 sodas from all over the country. In my extensive Pop (soda) research I have not found a better selection anywhere in Ohio. In addition to what is on the selves the Works offers four sodas on draft. These are supplemented by a soda fountain to accent those sodas with ice cream to create tasty floats. All in all the end result is a carbonation conundrum – what to drink and what to take home.

I found more than a few sodas (pops) that I have never been able to locate in the Buckeye State. Seeing everything on display I was thrilled to see old regional soda companies from around the country, many from the 1920’s are still popping around. I was also excited to see some many new “craft” sodas that have popped up in the last few years mirroring the rise of craft beer throughout the country. Pre-Prohibition most communities has a local brewery and a local pop – often times created in the same place. Drink local works just as well with beer as with pop in my book.

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Market Street Soda works is open Tuesdays and Fridays 11 am to 8 pm to align with the Farmers Market schedule. Food trucks set up near the entrance to offer a food option to pair with the pops. If you are anxious to excite your taste buds with new flavors, Market Street Soda Works is well worth the drive to Newark.

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Market Street Soda Works
14 E Market St, Newark, OH 43055
Facebook
Website

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Mrs. Renison’s Donuts, Marysville (Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 23, 2016

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On my way back from The Donut Shop (at Indian Lake) I decided to check the hours for Mrs. Rennison’s Donuts in Marysville which was the mid-point for my drive back to Columbus. Checking the map, it is just a few minutes away from 33 so I decided to cram in a second donut run into my morning. The second it came into view I experienced Donut Trail Deja Vu. The place looks a lot like The Family Donut Shoppe (now in my top three donut places in the state) both in building size, design and they have a drive through window and parking lot sets up that are similar.

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Looking at the sign and seeing that the recipe dated back to 1929, I was excited. When I got home I found out that this business dates to 1989 so at first I was less excited, then I found out where the 1929 reference comes from:

Crispie Creme Donuts began in Portsmouth, Ohio, and was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Renison.

It is known by names such as Mrs. Renison Shops, Mrs. Renison’s Doughnuts and Mrs. Renison’s Crispie Creme Donut Shop. Shops have been found in Ohio in Lancaster, Marysville, Wheelersburg and Chillicothe.

It appears that at some point the Renisons sold the business or franchised the name to allow other similarly named businesses to operate. For example, the Marysville shop that opened around 1989 is run by Keith and Cindy Hill, using “Mrs. Renison’s original recipe from Portsmouth

I’ve been to the Crispie Creme in Chillicothe so now I saw the historical connection.

Walking through the door, I was greeted by fast and very friendly service. Feeling a bit bloated already I tried to order just eight donuts but my new friend at the counter pointed out that for a few cents more I could have one dozen. And the price was right $9.50, sold!

This shop offers a wide variety of yeast and cake donuts. The standout to me was the cinnamon. It is a six-sided yeast donut with a bit of a swirl on the inside and a thin glaze of vanilla icing on top with some cinnamon sprinkled on top. The other winner was the last of its batch on the shelf. A dark chocolate cake donut with a thick layer of chocolate icing on top. The level of chocolate was almost overwhelming but not off-putting.

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622 E 5th St, Marysville
937 642-7008

Mrs Renison's Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in donuts, Ohio, Ohio Donut Trail, Road Trip | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

The Donut Shop & Bakery, Russells’ Point/Indian Lake (Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 21, 2016

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In 2016, I’m wrapping up the southern leg of the Ohio Donut Trail and focusing my eyes on the north. A few readers had suggested The Donut Shop (known as Hinkle’s long, long ago) at Indian Lake. I decided to make my move while it was still summer to get a feel for the vibe of the place. I’ve never been to the area so I budgeted out some time to drive around Russel’s Point to explore the community. I thought this would be a good way to tip my toe into the water of the northern Ohio donut trail.

Reading some online reviews, the only complaint I could find about the Donut Shop was that there is not inside space to the place. Everyone orders from a single window in the shop. The donuts are displayed through the other windows. I could see where this might be a drag in the winter but from my perspective that gives the workers a lot more space for donut production so I support the business as is. There is a large variety of yeast and cake donuts to choose from as well as cookies, cinnamon rolls and other baked goods. The two signature donuts here are both yeast style donuts. The first is the Buckeye which is a mix or peanut butter, chocolate, cream filling and a bit of whipped cream. The flavors on this donut were big and rich. The other signature donut is the maple bacon. The maple glaze had a good flavor to it but the bacon bits were a cursory adjunct at best. My favorite donuts of the dozen I sampled were the vanilla cake and the apple fritter. The fritter had a good shelf life to it, still tasting great two days after I bought it. It also had great apple flavor. It is one of the better apple fritters I have trip along the Ohio Donut Trail. As I was rounding out my order of a dozen I was asking the woman at the window if there were any favorite donuts I missed? Before she could answer her co-worker said – “well there is at least one you can’t have.” (I wondered, what did I do wrong and then I thought, this is a challenge, there must be some type of donut they think I won’t eat). As it turned out I was just here at the wrong time. The most popular donut in the shop is pumpkin which is a fall only seasonal flavor. A close second is an apple crisp donut which rolls out at the same time.

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The kicker for the Donut Shop is everything else it has to offer. They offer ice creams and sandwiches during the weekends. I was impressed to see they serve Homemade Brand Ice Cream (from UDF the best “macro” ice cream maker in the state). While the shop closes at noon during the week, they stay open as late as 9 pm on warm weather weekends. They also have two good deals: Box lunches for $5 and day old donuts (not many to choose from) for 25 cents each ($3 for a dozen). Another perk is a great view of the lake.

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Also noted as I looked at the windows I saw this sign, which I had seen at another place before. I took a liking to the concept of a Donut Party – both politically and socially. I have hosted donut parties in the past. But politically, the concept of a donut party appeals to me during this election year I could best describe as insane.

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The Donut Shop and Bakery
104 Main St E, Russells Point
937 842-1969

The Donut Shop on the Lake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Mama Renie’s Pizza: McArthur Ohio

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 29, 2016

(An installment in the Route 56 Trilogy and the Grumpy Old Man Saga)

Our tale of Mama Renie’s involves several sidetrips both literally and figuratively so let us begin our journey. The path to Mama Renie’s was a long and winding trail. it began when I became aware of Family Donut Shoppe in Londonderry which started my exploration of Route 56. For this trip to McArthur I sought out a co-pilot in the Grumpy Old Man. Readers may be familiar with the Grumpy Old Man from another installment in the Route 56 Trilogy – Carl’s Townhouse. One the first exploration of Route 56, I talked the Grumpy Old Man into going to Family Donut shop the first time by promising a trip to O’Betty’s in Athens after. At the mid-point of our first Route 56 adventure we passed through Mcarthur and the place below caught my eye. My eatery sixth sense kicked in and knew I had to head back some day (soon).

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(Take a look at the sign in the photo). A sign on a pizza place which says Breakfast 6 am is the sign of a full service establishment that warrants investigation. Looking at the brick work (glazed enamel which was high-end in the 1920’s) of this building I could tell this place has a lot of history which meant – the potential for a lot of character.

So once again, I talked the Grumpy Old Man into joining me on another Route 56 adventure. This time we would go to Carl’s Townhouse and since Family Donut Shop was only 15 miles away we would head back there and then proceed to McArthur for a very detailed scouting mission.

Now long time readers of this blog are thinking “why would the Grumpy Old Man need to be talked into what sounds like a great day trip?” Well, the back story is complicated but I’ll provide some bullet points. I’ve known the Grumpy Old Man for almost thirty years and along the way we have had many good adventures: camping trips, a trip to Baltimore where I slept under a pool table and wore reindeer pants, a 4 day trip to Puerto Rico that nearly led to my death by pork and rum overdose and at least six trips to Lake Hope. The Lake Hope adventures are the ones that lead to the trepidation the Grumpy Old Man has when I make a trip pitch to him. Lake Hope Adventures typically involve the following: five to seven meals per day in Athens (sometimes going to the same place two to three times in a day), a long hike where we are sometimes unclear if we will finish…or survive, a hangover, often extended bursts of intestinal gas and on our last two trips drinking one bottle of Yering Station Fortified Shiraz which is the finest and one of the most potent wines in the world. And unfortunately for me can only be found at the Yering Station winery in the Yarra Valley and my supply is now depleted which is fortunate for the Grumpy old man. While the Grumpy Old Man enjoys a trip to Lake Hope he has found the rigors of my itineraries wear him out and age him about 1 year in 3 to 4 days. A shared bottle of fortified Shiraz seems to age him about 3 years. My additional selling point for our McArthur scouting run is that this little town is only 14.7 miles from the cabin we stay in at Lake Hope. Somehow in all of our trips to Lake Hope and the surrounding area we have never been to McArthur. So if McArthur did indeed have a good place to eat, I would have an alternative to Athens on our adventures and thus he would have some protection from my indulgences at Jackie O’s, Devil’s Kettle, Little Fish, West End Cider House and such. This added to a guaranteed trip to Family Donut Shoppe allowed the Grumpy Old Man to commit to be tripped.

However, after lunch at Carl’s and second lunch at Family Donut Shoppe, the Grumpy Old Man asked if we were going to skip McArthur and just head home. Of course my response was merely a roll of my eyes as we moved on down the road to our destiny (this is why I always drive so that my agenda can’t be trumped).

Upon arrival in McArthur we did a quick drive by of our target sites in town then exited the vehicle to explore McArthur on foot (which took about 10 minutes). We were not sure if Mama Renie’s was open and the Grumpy Old Man was reluctant to enter so I scouted it solo by trying to find an unlocked door. I was a bit disoriented upon entering because the interior is very dark with minimal lighting as well as a very dark, long wood bar and booths. I knew based on the look of the bar alone that Mama Renie’s was worth this trip. I returned outside to fetch the Grumpy Old Man and apparently I was not just scouting for myself, as two frumpy twenty something ladies that were also casing out the place entered when I came out to give the thumps up.

Since Grumpy and I were both full from our previous meals we just opted to order a beer a piece as we took time to soak in the atmosphere of the bar. I explained that we would not be eating but that would still like to look at the menu. The menu looked very promising offering a full breakfast menu, some sandwiches and of course pizza. One thing caught my eye because it was completely unexpected…..homemade potato chips. So against the protestations of the Grumpy Old Man I placed an order. You can see where the chips fell below.

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These chips were great. Some were very crispy and a few still had some chewiness. All together the best barroom snack for a place like this. While we munched away we began to chat with our server/host to find that her son has owned the restaurant for over 15 years but in the past the place had hidden tunnels and trap doors used to hide and sell moonshine during prohibition. Other things that caught my eye during my exploration of the building were decades of photos of local sports teams – mostly basketball, which is big in Vinton County. I also found an old business license and photo of owners from the late 1940’s. All in all the place has the look and vibe of many of the neighborhood bars in Cleveland so the Grumpy Old Man felt right at home. I continued my discussions with our new friend behind the bar I decided that I needed to order a pizza (to go – even I was beyond full at this point) because she kept talking about how good the pizza was. We also covertly watched what the other people were eating (everything looked good) and heard an older couple struggling over what pie to order. In the process of their deciding we overheard that the pie purveyor Mama Renie’s uses is well-known throughout Vinton County. We did see a few slices of pie and they did indeed look exceptional.

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Eventually, we reluctantly departed Mama Renie’s. The Grumpy Old Man was excited to head home but I told him we were not done yet, we needed to back track to check out the other place that looked good on our drive into McArthur. After quelling a minor mutiny we headed to Main Eatery to pick up a beverage only for the long ride back to Columbus. As we approached the building we noticed the 20 something frumps had followed us (henceforth known as the McArthur girls) and they did declare “we are not following you guys….really”. I know better, my guess is that they had spied the two boxes of Family Donut Shoppe donuts in my Subaru and were looking for an opportunity to steal them. So I gallantly insisted that they order first (so I could keep an eye on them and my donuts). After the McArthur girls ordered their shakes and planted themselves on the patio we started chatting up the woman at the ordering window. She went on at length about all Main Eatery has to offer including over 150 types of shakes, house make corned beef, fresh sauces, etc. Very impressive for a small building that just looks like a typical, generic soft serve ice cream stand. At this point the Grumpy Old Man was beyond distraught, thinking I was going to force another meal on him, he started to make a run for the house next door which had a Safe Place logo sign on the door. Since I was full and had a full pizza and box of donuts in my car, all I ordered as a small cole slaw for the road. We bid the McArthur girls adieu (until our next meeting, they did look like stalkers) and headed back to Columbus via SR 93 and 33.

I am happy to report both the pizza from Mama Renie’s and the cole slaw from Main Eatery were really good and made a fine dinner that evening. The Grumpy Old Man survived this adventure as well and still talks about the Family Donut Shop and the McArthur Girls each week.

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100 W Main St, McArthur, OH 45651
(740) 596-3300

Mama Renie's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Ohio, pies, pizza, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Carl’s Townhouse – Chillicothe

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 24, 2016

Carls

My previous Chillicothe visits included: seeing Tecumseh! the outdoor drama, writing about a restaurant for Ohio Magazine in 1998, visiting two donut spots and picking up the vanity at Lowe’s (the only one in inventory for the whole state). Back when I was a government drone my job often took me to the Chillicothe Veterans Administration Hospital (which has roots going back to World War I) but duty to fix problems and ethical responsibility did not allow me to take side trips to explore the area. I never really explored the city or the downtown. Considering Chillicothe was once a state capital and it is fun to say and more importantly considering all of the other places in the state I have explored on a whim, Chillicothe was overdue for an extended trip.

I’m not sure of the exact series of searches that popped Carl’s onto my laptop screen but it was probably related to doing a search related to Family Donut Shoppe. I’m glad I did pay attention to Carl’s and felt the pull to make this my reason to head south. I enjoyed driving the streets of downtown Chillicothe looking at many 1880’s era buildings and small local shops while searching for Carl’s.

I scouted out Carl’s on various review sites and found almost universal love for the place and in particular their burgers. I lured along one of my research assistants, the grumpy old man, with promises of a trip to Family Donut Shoppe afterwards as well as a recon trip to McArthur Ohio. Within moments of arrival to Carl’s the grumpy old man was also pleased. Carl’s is the kind of diner that every community needs. A simple place with straightforward food where regulars come to catch up with each other as well as the events of the day. More diners could help Make America great again.

Having a research assistant allowed me to do extensive food research. I’ll start with the hamburgers. The trademark menu item here are slider style hamburgers. The burgers were much bigger and thicker than a White Castle slider. Students of hamburger history (such as myself) would recognize this as the typical burger of the 1940’s – 1960’s. Neither too big nor too small with a lumpy instead of perfectly formed patty and when paired with fries, a very satisfying meal. The burgers are great and I highly suggest them. I ordered the double cheeseburger basket (two double cheeseburgers and fries).

Double cheeseburger basket

As a student of hot dog history as well as a staunch hot dog advocate, I ordered a chili dog to boot. I was pleased with the presentation here. The bun was lightly grilled, the hot dog was split in the middle to aid grilling as well as chili retention. The chili was definitely homemade with a distinct flavor to it. Overall it was better than average.

chili dog

The grumpy old man ordered the pork tenderloin sandwich. I was happy to see this on the menu. Many years ago I did extensive research on regional sandwiches around the USA for a book project. I spent a week traveling around the Midwest trying out the best pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa, Indiana and Illinois which is the heartland of this regional delicacy. I found this version true to style. It was properly breaded and sufficiently – as is the tradition – much bigger than the bun it was served on. More points for Carl’s.

tenderloin sandwich

My favorite item of the lot was also my biggest surprise. I saw apple strudel written on the specials board and ordered that out of curiosity. It turned out to be Apple Strudel Pie! Even the grumpy old man, with his girl-like appetite, found room to take a bite and found it pleasing to the palate as well.

apple strudel pie

One of the things that makes Carl’s a destination is the character of the place which comes from a long history in the community. When I work with clients, I often share with them how important sharing the history of a business is to customer loyalty. Carl’s does a great job in this category by sharing their history on the menu. As a local landmark, this is important, so I photographed that history to share with you below.

part 1

part 2

To wrap it all up. Carl’s is an iconic diner that dishes out breakfast, lunch, dinner and an extensive list of daily specials at affordable prices. If you find yourself in Chillicothe, this is well worth a visit. If you have a few extra minutes walk across the street to the antique shop and see if this trinket is still around. Even though it was $375 I was very tempted to take it home with me. If you are not familiar with the gentleman below, it is J. Wellington Wimpy. A personal hero of mine with an even greater affinity for hamburgers, he is best known for his insightful philosophy, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” If you fetch Wimpy for me today, I’ll gladly pay you back with a burger on Tuesday.

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Carl's Town House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ohio Donut Trail: Penny’s Pastries, Logan

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 21, 2016

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Buried deep inside of the Ohio Revised Code, I have a hunch that there is some type of mandate on requirements for small Ohio towns. If I was to guess, it may read something like this, any county seat as well towns numbering over 1500 citizens or greater should ensure the following are located near the city center: Statue honoring a civil war hero, a small park with benches, a traffic circle or small area of one way streets and a bakery. Penny’s Pastries ensures that Logan Ohio meets those standards.

Penny’s is a small, homey, full service bakery that offers a small number of donuts each day. While not the mainstay of the business, donuts are an important enough feature to warrant displaying them in the front window (so customers can see if any are left) and prominent placement of the production schedule at the front door. In addition to donuts they offer cakes, muffins, cookies, etc. Donuts typically sell out quickly so it is suggest you arrive as close to the 6 am opening time as possible to get the best selection. Although I have not tried one, the peanut butter creme filled donuts appears to be their biggest crowd pleaser.

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Penny’s Pastries Bakery
Address: 81 E Main St, Logan, OH 43138
Phone:(740) 385-5190

Posted in donuts, Ohio Donut Trail, Road Trip | Tagged: | 2 Comments »